Puss in Boots: The Last Wish – movie review

Puss in Boots (the voice of Antonio Banderas) first appeared in Shrek 2 in 2004, before showing up again in a couple of other Shrek sequels and then a standalone film in 2011. Now the swashbuckling adventurer returns in Puss in Boots: The Last Wish. This time, he’s facing his biggest challenge – losing his sense of fearlessness.

The cat’s death-defying great escapes have become legendary and yet they have come at a cost. As we all know, a cat has nine lives and (unknown to him) Puss has actually used up eight of them. Then he’s visited by the demonic “red eyed” big bad wolf (the voice of Wagner Moura), who is out to kill him off for good.  He is far more powerful than Puss and leaves the latter shaking in his boots (pun fully intended).

His one hope of redemption is to undertake an epic journey into the Black Forest to find the mythical Wishing Star and restore his lost lives. But that won’t be an easy feat. Puss will have to learn to humble himself and ask for help from his former partner, Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek Pinault). The pair will be aided in their cause by a relentlessly cheerful orphan dog, Perrito (Harvey Guillen), who is always looking on the bright side of life. They face considerable obstacles in the form of other cartoon characters also chasing the holy grail.

These include Goldi – as in “Locks” – (Florence Pugh) and the Three Bears Crime Family: Momma Bear (Olivia Colman), Papa Bear (Ray Winstone) and Baby Bear (Samson Kayo) and the evil Jack Horner (John Mulaney). Also featuring in Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is Puss’ doctor (the voice of Anthony Mendez). He delivers the news to Puss that he is on very shaky ground and directs him to visit Mama Luna (Da’Vine Joy Randolph), who has a soft spot for cats. It is there that Puss “befriends” Perrito and the grand adventure begins.

The movie is colourful, creative and quite complex in navigating the various “heightened” cartoon characters. I particularly warmed to Goldi and the three bears and the characterisation of the big bad wolf, scary as he is. My familiarity with them in their traditional form no doubt served me well (and I dare say the same will be the case with the littlies who will see this film).

“Big” Jack Horner was an interesting choice as the voice of gluttony.  The original English “Little” Jack Horner nursery rhyme was written with greed in mind, so that certainly makes sense. I’m not so sure how popular or well-known Horner is to the contemporary generation. Thats not to say that you can’t introduce new or less familiar characters into a franchise, only that Horner didn’t seem to resonate as much as the others in this case. I should say that I did enjoy the casting of Jiminy Cricket (Kevin McCann) as Horner’s moral guardian.

While I appreciated the setup and general trajectory of the story, I felt it was a little laboured and repetitive in navigating the “challenges” in the Black Forest. Still, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish remains fun and fanciful throughout.

Alex First

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